At 4 years old, Kevin Driscoll of Framingham wrote a letter to Santa Claus asking for a Jerry Mahoney ventriloquist puppet. He was delighted when he received the red-jacketed doll at his Nebraska home, but left behind the hobby as he grew up.
After moving to Boston in 1969, Driscoll earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education from Berklee College of Music and the University of Massachusetts Boston, respectively. he taught music in the Marlborough public schools for eight years, and then held engineering, marketing, and sales positions over the next decade at Digital Equipment Corporation.
When his two sons left for college, Driscoll searched to fill the time he had previously spent attending their school and sports events. His return to ventriloquism occurred while working at Spookyworld in 2011, where he created dinosaur voices for hand puppets. Encouraged by the positive response, Driscoll purchased a replica of the puppet that he had owned as a child.
For the next year, Driscoll honed his craft by watching videos on YouTube and performing at open mike nights at comedy clubs.
“Being able to make people laugh was so rewarding,” he said. “Then I realized people would actually pay for it.”
Through Driscoll Productions, the 64-year-old performs his musical ventriloquist comedy at a variety of venues for all ages, with a puppet that is dressed as Jerry or Jessica, plus Doug the Talking Dog for children’s programs. With younger audiences, Driscoll prides himself on developing shows with an educational component. In all cases, he is the butt of the jokes from his wise-cracking companions.
“You tailor the performance to the audience,” Driscoll said. “One Friday night, I did an early G-rated show for an ultraconservative religious group, and later an adult show at a bar. Same costumes, different jokes.”
Driscoll offers performance options such as drum circles, drumming with dummies, and jazz ensembles of up to 24 musicians. He also works as an actor, and he is general manager of the software company 1stWorks Corporation.
“I’ve combined three of my passions: ventriloquism, education, and music,” he said. “I’m having so much fun.”
For more information, visit driscollproductions.com.Cindy Cantrell may be reached at email@example.com.